PLAN Future FFG design

Discussion in 'Navy' started by Bltizo, Apr 20, 2014.

  1. Iron Man
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    Iron Man Captain
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    The Artisan doesn't actually provide fire control to the Sea Ceptor. It would simply point it in the right direction, something any surveillance radar could do. So in this case it wouldn't be a matter of the radar so much as the missile itself providing its own guidance. In any case I just recalled that the EMPAR is a rotating single-face panel in C-band, which could provide fire control to SARH missiles, so the idea may possibly be translatable into a smaller radar for the trimaran. Though again this idea would really require a large bank of carried missiles to justify the cost of such a radar.

    Surface threats needing several grouped 056/As would represent a failure of strategy IMO. Subsurface threats may possibly be a more likely reason, such as operating their embarked helicopters in closer proximity to each other. But then again I'm not sure how much difference a few dozen km difference in ship spacing makes to a helicopter, which could cover such distances in just several minutes.

    A PLAN version which sounds more and more like a 054A-type ship. After all we are now speculating about EMPAR-type radars and large SAM magazines. The more it sounds like a 054A, the more reason to just build another 054A instead of designing an entirely new ship class.
     
  2. Bltizo
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    Bltizo Lieutenant General

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    Yep.


    I wouldn't describe the taskforce grouping as a "necessity" against surface threats, but more as a prudent tactic given the capability of foe that the Navy would be facing.



    Potentially, however 054A's endurance might be a bit more than what a trimaran frigate would be necessary for, and 054A only has one helicopter hangar, a trimaran (at least in the model and likely would carry over to a Chinese navy version) would have quite a bit bigger helipad as well, and a trimaran hullform may operate in the littorals better than an 054A, not to mention 054A's sensor and weapons suite may not be as modern as what the Navy may want even on a new warship that is smaller than 054A.

    I think the industry has reached a point where the Navy is able to potentially tailor their requirements to such a way where certain designs can be more optimized to roles that they want without having to use or adapt an existing design for a role. The flipside would also be the possbility that the Navy is also willing to pay for a new design that fulfills a role better than using an existing design.
     
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  3. Iron Man
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    I don't know anything that a pack of 056s could handle that a single 056 could not handle, especially in the Chinese littorals. No sane enemy ship captain would sail a single corvette, frigate, or even destroyer into a hostile China's littorals without a dozen more of his buddies right behind him. A single 056 could easily handle a coast guard cutter, gun boat, pirate ship, or a gray ship that you wouldn't automatically attack on sight but are potentially hostile nonetheless, such as a fishing trawler, tug, or even container ship that may be spying for the enemy. These are the kinds of threats I can see a patrolling 056 coming upon and being tasked to deal with. An actual enemy surface combatant like I said would invariably come with friends into China's littorals and would easily overwhelm even a group of 056s.

    Why rag on the endurance of the 054A when you were touting the endurance of the trimaran? Really the only thing the trimaran has going for it over the 054A is the (probable) dual hangar, though if the job description is "corvette leader" this is not a significant disadvantage. A bigger helipad is useless without a helicopter that would make use of it. The reason the Independence benefits from such a large helipad is that an MV-22 can land on it, and the ship itself has the hangar space to carry one on patrol. While you could postulate that a Z-8/18 could make use of this trimaran's helipad, why should this ship boast about this capability or even have need of it in the first place? Is this little ship really going to carry a couple large Z-8/18s around on patrol, something we have only seen the Liaoning embark? It seems to be a huge stretch to say that a larger helipad is any kind of real advantage over a 054A. As for the hullform differences, we are talking about the littorals, not brown waters where the difference of 1 or 2 meters in draft might actually make a difference. As for sensors and weapons suites, seriously? We are talking about potentially escorting and providing air defense for a few 056s in a "medium intensity air threat" environment; what technology greater than the 054A do you actually need for that kind of mission? Not to mention the 054A is right this minute still being constructed new, so the PLAN somehow being unsatisfied with the 054A's level of technology would be a speculation that is totally out of left field, and has no evidence to back it as far as I know.
     
  4. Bltizo
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    Bltizo Lieutenant General

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    I have no doubt that during peace time 056/As would patrol on a mostly individual basis, but during war time, whether it's off the coast of China in the SCS or ECS or near Taiwan, I wouldn't be too comfortable sending 056/As on singular patrols even with the knowledge that there are destroyers, frigates, and AEW&C, strike fighters etc that are in the outer and higher levels of overwatch+defence against surface targets.

    If an opposing corvette or frigate or FAC manages to slip through and encounters your 056/A on ASW patrol, sure the 056/A probably has a good fighting chance, but I'd feel much better about the odds if the 056/As were operating in a pair or better, two pairs.


    Right amount of a good thing (endurance) in an overall package that may be better suited for the mission vs a bigger amount of a good thing in an overall package that may not be as well suited for the mission.

    Of course this comes down to what our differing perceptions of the Chinese Navy's potential variant of the trimaran frigate will actually look like...


    I don't think this trimaran would be used to accommodate Z-18s necessarily, I was more thinking that it could be used to carry an additional Z-20 sized helicopter or perhaps even VTOL UAVs, in addition to the two helicopter hangars it has for what I presume to be Z-20 sized helicopters. Of course this is only a relatively minor benefit relative to 054A among the others that I described.

    As for technology; I'm not saying the Chinese Navy is unsatisfied with the 054A's level of technology per se, but rather that they may be unsatisfied with the 054A's level of technology on a new warship -- i.e.: a warship intended probably to enter service maybe by 2020, early 2020s.
     
  5. Iron Man
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    The point is that an enemy has no reason to slip a ship through. It's not like it's a sub with high chance of survivability even behind enemy lines. A ship "slipping through" by itself is asking to get killed and poses little threat to anyone by itself. It's not like in the old days of PT boats or ships in the dark sneaking in for a torpedo run or a few broadsides before slipping back into the night. One ship nowadays is not only not going to do much damage on its own but also once it does attack its presence is known and will be tracked until it is destroyed. I don't think mission planners would plan for a 056 to encounter an enemy surface combatant by itself. Slugging it out with an enemy warship toe to toe is not what these ships are designed for anyway. These ships are designed to deal with other ships that operate by themselves or are otherwise significantly less capable than the corvette itself, like I said cutters, gunboats, pirate ships, and civilian gray ships. I mean sure you could put together enough ships to kill larger surface combatants, just like putting together enough ants could be enough to kill a bear, but that wouldn't exactly be playing to the 056's strengths and intended roles.

    I'm doubtful such minutia about long vs longer escort endurance would have any real significance in the grand scheme of things.

    Well you were talking about the benefit of a larger "helipad", not a larger hangar space, unless you misspoke and meant to say hangar space.

    The question isn't really whether the PLAN wouldn't be satisfied with current tech for new ships, but whether the PLAN feels a 054A is sufficient tech to provide air defense for a group of closely-spaced 056s in a "medium intensity air threat" environment. I think the answer would be unambiguously yes.
     
  6. Bltizo
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    Bltizo Lieutenant General

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    Overall I agree with your logic, but the nature of the war that China will probably be looking to fight and the capability of the foe China will likely face makes me feel like the layers of defence (both at sea and in the air) may be compromised now and then, and the risk of opfor surface vessel penetration is one that is meaningfully significant enough such that it wouldn't significantly compromise the ASW role of 056/As to operate in a formation of some sort.



    Probably not, but it is one of those more minor points in the comparison.


    No, I did mean a larger helipad -- i.e.: a larger helipad can potentially provide greater flexibility for spotting an additional helicopter, or VTOL UAVs on the helipad between take off and landing operations.


    Oh, the answer most unambiguously is yes, if the question was merely about having a ship to provide air defense for a formation of 056s in medium intensity air threat environment.

    But I think the question may also be having a ship that can not only do that, but also be the optimal size hullform and endurance for the littoral/near seas ASW mission, with sufficient accommodation for ASW helicopter assets, and sufficiently modern so that it has modernization and growth potential.

    Now, I think the 054As can probably even do what I described in the paragraph above reasonably well, and in the recent past I've even advocated for the idea of 054As acting in the overwatch/air defence/command role for 056/A formations during ASW patrols at China's littorals/near seas.
    But will the Navy be interested in a ship that could potentially do that job even better than an 054A, what would the cost and actual capabilities of such a ship be, how many are they interested in, and would it be worth it overall to buy into a separate ship class? That's what we don't know.
     
  7. Hendrik_2000
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    Hendrik_2000 Brigadier

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    Henri K doesn't think that PLAN will acquire this trimaran frigate
    I think they will acquire limited number of it to complement type 56 in first island chain water around china. Time will tell
    http://www.eastpendulum.com/pourquoi-la-prochaine-fregate-chinoise-type-054b-ne-sera-pas-un-trimaran
    The CSSC, one of two Chinese shipbuilding groups, presented the model of a trimaran hull frigate at IDEX 2017, currently being held in Abu Dhabi.
    [​IMG]
    According to a Jane's article published on Tuesday, 21 , CSSC staff reported that this frigate, a concept similar to the American Independence Class light frigates of the Littoral Combat Ship ( LCS ) program, is also being built for the Chinese Navy. Is in contradiction with the observation at our disposal.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    The trimaran hull frigate proposed for export by the Chinese CSSC group (Photos: 军事 军事, 牛 小队 小队)

    Measuring 142 meters long and 32.6 meters wide, the vessel moves 2,450 tons and can go up to 35 knots in speed according to the Chinese manufacturer. With a crew of more than 100 men, the frigate has a range of 30 days at sea.

    The ship's all-electric propulsion system is powered by diesel engines, and the trimaran is equipped with three hydrojets for navigation.

    Armament level, the Chinese proposal is little, not at all, modular unlike the American LCS.The frigate is equipped with a 76 mm caliber PJ-26 main gun, a 32-silo LY-80N VLS system , eight anti-ship missiles of unknown type, two CIWS PJ-12B with 7 30 mm tubes, and two Multi-function lures. A relatively "classic" weapon configuration for Chinese-designed ships.

    And thanks to its hull trimaran, this Chinese frigate dedicated to the export has a deck area more consistent compared to ships of the same displacement. It can therefore accommodate not one but two helicopter hangars, for example. On the new Chinese first-line war ships, only the Type 055 destroyer will have two hangars, but its displacement exceeds 12,000 tons full loads.

    Another particularity, but this remains to be confirmed, the ship seems to be endowed with an integrated mast, where the majority of the sensors are installed.

    So did the Chinese navy actually acquire such a 2,450-tonne, trimaran hull frigate?

    The answer is…. No, for several reasons.

    First, our source close to the Chinese navy confirms that this trimaran configuration that the CSSC is putting "on sale" today is developed from that which lost, in 2012, the tender of the next frigate Of the Chinese Navy, now called Type 054B .

    In fact, while the construction of the Type 054A frigates was in full operation (up to the end of 2012, 16 frigates of this class were launched), the Chinese navy already foresee in 2010 the renewal of its medium multi- In the high seas, considered as excellent in terms of development and operational costs, and perfectly adapted to the missions it entrusts.

    [​IMG]
    Three Type 054A frigates in the Gulf of Aden (Photo: 舰船 舰船)

    The consulting firms of the two Chinese naval groups, CSSC and CSIC, then submitted two very different proposals - the CSSC with a trimaran hull frigate and the CSIC with a variant that has been greatly improved since the start of the project. Old Type 054A. And we now know the choice of the Chinese navy.

    Finally, it is not surprising that this trimaran now resurfaces in an attempt to export, as it is almost a "habit" that Chinese manufacturers offer, on the external market, products "lost in the internal market". We have already seen several examples in the naval field, starting with the CIWS with missile FL-3000N proposed by the CASIC group, which was originally the losing candidate of the program HQ-10 ...

    Subsequently, a displacement of 2,450 tonnes does not correspond to any of the four major ships of the Chinese Navy - 1,000, 4,000, 6,000, and 12,000 tonnes - in its long-term strategic development plan.

    Strictly controlling the movement of its warships makes it possible to better control the costs of design, manufacture and especially exploitation. Having four type of ships also offers greater flexibility for deployments and a structuring framework for standardization and updating of equipment.

    For example, in recent years there have been new classes of Chinese vessels that have scrupulously followed this logic - the Type 056 corvette of 1,340 tons, the Type 054A frigate of 4,000 tons, the all-electric Type 054B frigate, Which is a few hundred tonnes taller than its predecessor, the Type 052C and Type 052D destroyers from 6,000 to 7,000 tons, and the Type 055 destroyer of 12,000 tons.

    A 2,450 tonne frigate therefore does not correspond to any of these slices, and will not logically have its place in a fleet that wants to be harmonized.

    As for why the trimaran hull proposal has lost the tender of Type 054B, there is still no official information on the issue. But it is thought that it could come from several reasons.

    The first is inevitably of a technical nature. According to a note written in 2004 by three researchers from the Naval University of Engineering - an academy of Chinese navy - the trimaran hull configuration, it was indicated that such a concept is not cheaper As mono-hulls and catamarans in the low-speed area, although it is superior in hydrodynamic resistance performance in high speed, and offers a relative better sea holding and stability.

    And considering the role of the Chinese frigates, especially the Type 054A and its successor Type 054B, which has a more pronounced orientation on anti-submarine combat, high speed is clearly not a determining criterion, unlike the LCS Who must act in the littoral zone of the enemy and who have very different missions.

    This is compounded by the potentially higher design and manufacturing costs associated with a more complex design and a more stressed structure.

    Such a concept - perhaps more advanced but not a real gain in the tasks entrusted to the building, with a higher set of costs and more risky program management - would therefore not correspond to the criteria of the navy Chinese.

    And in general, and not only in the naval field, when the Chinese army has two technical proposals in front of it, it will almost systematically take the one that is the most "applicable in the short term" and the least risky.

    The Chinese navy, which has lived for a very long period being "the step child", and is still in the "catch-up" phase, as many of its former officers repeated very recently, is not very attracted by solutions qualified as "Bling bling".

    [​IMG]
    One of three coastal rescue trimarans Type 917 (Photo: 海 海)

    Finally, could the "frigate built for the Chinese navy", as CSSC staff reported to Jane's journalists, be a prototype?

    It is believed that the probability is very low, see quasi-zero. On the one hand the Chinese navy is not used to building prototypes of such a size, and on the other hand a prototype trimaran, which is not one in reality, has already been in existence for four years.

    It is in fact the Class 917 inshore vessel . Built in triplicate to date, this trimaran of nearly 800 tons full loads has been admitted to active duty since 2012. Today, there is no indication that the Chinese navy is planning other shipments for this concept at Short or medium term, even among auxiliary buildings.

    Henri K.
     
    #97 Hendrik_2000, Feb 22, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2017
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  8. Insignius
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    Insignius Junior Member

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    Would be sad if the PLAN wants to have an ASW frigate, but still sticks with the 054 hull that allows only one helicopter.

    Seriously. Conservativism is taking its toll.

    I bet the 056, which is equally ill-suited for ASW despite being built for it in the first place, also could have been born from this typical Chinese phenomenon. Sometimes, taking risks is worth it.
     
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  9. Lethe
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    Lethe Senior Member

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    High speed is not required for ASW? Um, ok.

    There is a reason why even USN's "cheap workhorse" FFG-7s had GT propulsion, and that is because their primary tasking was ASW. The ability to chase down submarines and operate in a "sprint and drift" pattern are important.

    The major benefits of a trimaran hull for a smaller warship are that it offers a broad flight deck at low displacement, and superior seakeeping qualities compared to monohull of the same displacement.

    And after building some 70 Type 022s, I'm not sure why the platform should be regarded as particularly "exotic". Just because it looks similar to one of the US LCS designs doesn't mean it is "bling bling".
     
    #99 Lethe, Feb 23, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2017
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  10. Iron Man
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    Well I guess we just disagree on the likelihood of single ship 'penetration' into China's littorals. From my perspective, even if a single enemy surface combatant had the opportunity to slip deep into China's littorals, it would not do so, mainly out of a desire for self preservation. If the outcome of a major naval engagement between a PLAN SAG and a USN SAG resulted in one USN ship left standing and it had the chance to drive deeper into China's littorals, IMO that remaining ship would instead turn 180 degrees and head the other way, or at the very most wait until a relief/backup force arrived before sailing in any deeper. In fact I think that if this ship actually subsequently encountered a single 056 it would almost certainly accelerate to flank speed and hightail it out of there instead of seeking an engagement with the 056, because it will know that it was spotted, and ships, subs, and/or fighter-bombers will soon be inbound to send it to the bottom of the ocean if it's actually dumb enough to stick around.

    Eh? There is no way you can spot an additional helo on that thing. You couldn't even do that on the Independence. You would need something more along the size of the 071's flight deck, which itself can only spot 2 helos. It's more a matter of length than beam for spotting 2 helos, and this trimaran easily lacks this.

    Well Henri K seems to be offering that the PLAN answered in the negative to these questions. :)

    Actually, the 054A hull is perfectly capable of housing two helo hangars in the back. The PLAN simply chose not to design this capability into the ship. Whether it was because there was a lack of available helos at the time or because this ship was not seen as needing two embarked helos or both, we may never know. In any case, the 054B, if it is indeed more focused towards ASW, could easily have 2 hangars for 2 embarked ASW helos. My own vision of this ship is one that is more capable of both ASW and AAW with a 4-panel AESA MFR, VDS/TAS, 2 helos, and a 32-cell universal VLS with 8 cells devoted to 32 quad-packed MRSAMs, 8 cells devoted to ASCMs, and 16 cells devoted to ASW missiles. It would have a role very similar to the JMSDF's Akizuki class destroyer, except slightly smaller.

    As for the 056, I don't think it was ever meant for a mainly ASW role, or else it would have been designed with a hangar and VDS/TAS to start with. It has a very conventional general purpose patrol design with a little bit of everything in terms of capability. Meanwhile the 056A seems more like an afterthought than anything else.
     
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